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«This study examined whether the academic success, specifically the grade-point average, NCAA progress-towards-degree, and freshman to sophomore ...»

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• Academic—academic advisement, academic skills, and, tutorial assistance

• Athletic—counseling about injuries, health issues, and athletic transition

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• Personal and Social—personal/career counseling, and values clarification

• General—administrative issues and staff changes The goal of the SAAS program today should be the integration of athletics and academics. In the past many NCAA Division I athletic programs created and maintained a SAAS program for the purpose of separating student-athletes from the academic and social life of the university (Gerdy, 1998). Directors of athletics have fostered the growth of autonomous academic-assistance programs for student-athletes as a way of managing rather than solving academic problems. These programs are inherently driven toward maintaining eligibility rather than moving student-athletes towards graduation. Strong SAAS programs have gained popularity with coaches and athletic staff due to their help in the recruitment process of prospective student-athletes (Sloan, 2005). Modern SAAS programs have become significantly more comprehensive and have evolved to include counseling; sports psychology services; career planning, including resume, portfolio, and placement assistance, all designed to help the student-athlete to succeed in the classroom, on the playing field, and beyond (Gerdy, 1997; Hamilton, 2004; Kennedy, 2007).

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According to Steinbach (2004), Vanderbilt, in an effort to better integrate athletics into the educational mission, has merged athletics with campus recreation and wellness. The Athletic Department has been changed to the Athletic Program. There is no longer a position of athletics director; functions traditionally handled by athletics (media relations, marketing, public affairs, broadcasting, and fundraising) are now being handled by university-wide departments. Included in this broad-based reorganization are also programs for greater faculty and student-athlete involvement. Future plans include turning coaches into part-time faculty members. (p. 40)

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Astin (1975, 1984, 1993) conducted longitud inal studies of college dropout s that aim to identify factors that influence persistence. Astin found that campus involvement was by far the most important factor when predicting persistence. Astin (1984) defines involvement as... the amount of physical and psychological energy that the student devotes to the academic experience. Thus, a highly involved student is one who, for example, devotes considerable energy to studying, spends much time on campus, participates actively in student organizations, and interacts frequently with facult y members and other students. (p. 297) He also found that students involved in fraternities, sororities, and athletics were very likely to persist.

Tinto’s (1975, 1986, 1993, 1997) Student Integration Model and Bean’s Student Attrition Model (1980, 1982, 1985) are the primary theoretical retention models used in higher education. Tinto’s (1975, 1986, 1993, 1997) Student Integration Model suggests that student ’s inability to integrate into the social and academic life of the institution can influence their ability to persist. Tinto (1975, 1986, 1993, 1997) found that student integration is primarily accomplished through interaction with peers and faculty/staff.

More specifically academic integration into the campus community may include academic achievement measures like grade-point average, and frequency of contact with their faculty and academic advisors.

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Figure 1. Tinto’s Student Integration Model Bean’s (1980, 1982, 1985) Student Attrition Model was based on a model of employee turnover and stresses the importance of behavioral intentions.

Bean states that students’ beliefs about their academic experiences affect their intention to stay and subsequent persistence (1980, 1982, 1985). The flow of the model indicates that a student enters an institution with mental attributes that are shaped by past experiences, abilities, and self-assessments. The three most important

attributes are:

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• Normative beliefs—“Do the important people in my life think college is important?”

• Past Behavior—“Am I prepared academically and socially for college?” Bean’s model also acknowledges the influence of factors external to the institution, a factor that is not found in Tinto’s model.

Figure 2. Bean’s Student Attrition Model Tinto’s (1975, 1986, 1993, 1997) views on the importance of academic and social integration have been validated by a 17-year study of the freshman seminar (University

101) at the University of South Carolina (Barefoot & Fidler, 1996). Fidler and Fidler (1991) stated that the positive significant relationships between participating in University 101 and freshman-to-sophomore retention was related to ‘course process’; that is, University 101 participants are more likely than non-participants to achieve strong relationships with faculty... and this reflects greater social integration. (p. 15) Unfortunately, the leading models on persistence and departure do not address the plight of the student-athlete. For such a popular topic, it is remarkable that so little research has been conducted at the national level about what student-athletes do during college and how they compare to their peers not participating in athletics (Umbach et al., 2006).

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In the early 1990s higher education’s shift to a holistic total-person approach to student services was not unique to athletes (Levitz & Noel, 1989; Upcraft & Gardner, 1989). Although the curriculum of first-year experience courses differs from campus to campus (Barefoot, Warnock, Dickinson, Richardson, & Roberts, 1998; Gordon & Grites, 1984), most first- year experience courses focus on the following research-based


• Increase student-to-student interaction,

• Increase faculty-to-student interaction, especially outside of class,

• Increasing student involvement and time on campus,

• Linking the curriculum and the co-curriculum,

• Increasing academic expectations and levels of academic engagement

• Assisting students who have insufficient academic preparation for college.

(Barefoot, 2000, p. 15) Increase Student-to-Student Interaction Alexander Astin (1993) states that “... the students’ peer group is the single most potent source of influence on growth and development during the undergraduate years” (p. 398).

Ernest Boyer (1987) states,... a successful freshman- year program will convince students that they are part of an intellectually vital, caring community, and the spirit of the community will be sustained by a climate on the campus where personal relationships are prized, where integrity is the hallmark of discourse, and where people speak and listen carefully to each othe r. (p. 57) Increase Faculty-to-Student Interaction, Especially Outside Of Class In order to attain the level of academic and social integration described by Tinto (1975, 1986, 1993, 1997), students must have prolonged informal relationships with faculty members. He stated, Institutions with low rates of student retention are those in which students generally report low rates of student-faculty contact. Conversely, institutions with high rates of retention are most frequently those which are marked by relatively high rates of such interactions. (p. 66) George Kuh (1981) stated, “The empirical evidence seems unequivocal: Facultystudent interaction is an important part of a quality undergraduate experience” (p. 21).

Astin’s (1993) 25-year longitudinal study, which included a national sample of approximately 500,000 students and 1,300 institutions of all types, found that faculty-tostudent interaction was significantly correlated with many academic achievement outcomes including: first year persistence rates, college GPA, and degree attainment.

Increasing Student Involvement and Time on Campus

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Out-of-class experiences appear to be far more influential in students’ academic and intellectual development than many faculty members and academic and student affairs members think.... Even when pre-college academic learning and cognitive ability levels are taken into account, academic and cognitive learning are positively shaped by a wide variety of out-of-class experiences. (pp. 157, 160)

Pascarella and Terenzini (2005) state,

The environmental factors that maximize persistence and educational attainment include a peer culture in which students develop close on-campus friendships, participate frequently in college-sponsored activities, and perceive their college to be highly concerned about the individual student, as well as a college emphasis on supportive services. It is worth noting that some of these environmental influences on educational attainment persist even after college size and student body selectivity are taken into account. (p. 212) Retrospective reports from alumni on what memories of their college experience were most meaningful in promoting learning and personal development have consistently revealed that their most powerful learning experiences occurred outside the walls of the classroom (Light, 2001; Marchese, 1992).

Linking the Curriculum and the Co-curriculum Ernest Boyer (1987) states that The undergraduate college should be held together by something more than plumbing, a common grievance over parking, or football rallies in the fall. What students do in dining halls, on the playing fields, and in the rathskeller late at night all combine to influence the outcome of higher education, and the challenge, in the building of community, is to extend the resources for learning on the campus and to see the academic and nonacademic life as interlocked. (p. 11) Increasing Academic Expectations and Levels of Academic Engagement According to Cuseo (1991), the first-year experience course has the ability to enhance to enhance academic engagement by transcending specialized content and traversing disciplinary boundaries by focusing on the development of learning strategies and life skills that have cross-disciplinary applicability. The content and objectives of the first-year experience course are strikingly similar to the lifelong learning goals cited in many college mission statements and catalogues.

Assisting Students Who Have Insufficient Academic Preparation for College Tinto’s (1993) concept of academic integration implies that students must have mastered the basic academic skills to engage in the academic dialogue and be validated as a member of the community.

Study after study (Fidler & Fidler, 1991; Hyers & Joslin, 1998; Raymond & Napoli, 1998; Reason et al., 2006) documented the success of first-year experience courses. Pascarella and Terenzini (2005) noted that studies of the first-year experience “... produce uniformly consistent evidence of positive and statistically significant advantages to students who take the courses” (p. 400).

According to the 2006 National Survey on First- year experiences (2006):

• 85% of all colleges and universities currently offer a first-year experience

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• 92% of institutions with first-year experiences are offered for academic credit • 51% of institutions administer the seminars directly through academic affairs • 82% indicate that seminars are graded using a letter grade system • 46% of institutions require their first- year experiences for ALL first- year

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